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Displaying items by tag: christianity
Monday, 02 April 2018 19:30

A Tale of Two Men - and Two Faiths

[Apr 1, 2018. Photo credit Herald Sun]

 Today is Easter Sunday. Christians the world over celebrate the most important event in human history: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. At the heart of this event is one person giving his life for others, so that they might live. This is self-sacrificing love at its greatest.
Published in Islam

The recent decision of the England and Wales Court of Appeal in Pemberton v Inwood [2018] EWCA Civ 564 (22 March 2018) upholds what was in effect disciplinary action taken against a Church of England clergyman, the Reverend Canon Jeremy Pemberton, on account of his entering into a same-sex marriage. The decision is a sensible one which upholds the religious freedom of the Anglican church to operate in accordance with its fundamental religious beliefs.

Published in Religious Freedom
Wednesday, 14 March 2018 22:38

Signs of the Times

I think one of the issues with the recent revision of marriage is that many people found it hard to understand how the meaning of words can change change so quickly.

Words are seemingly increasingly fluid today - much like gender is regarded in certain circles. ‘Equality’ and ‘marriage’ were the two key words to undergo revision in 2017 in Australia, and it is no mistake that Yes groups connected these words in simple slogans with the overall aim of promoting ‘love’ to help stimulate revision.

Love is Love?

For example, take the University of Sydney advertising campaign in 2017 that was presumably linked in to the marriage debate: “Unlearn Love”.

The meaning could be taken several ways, but I am sure that the university was not saying that the love of two men is not love. I believe they were saying that married love is not what you always thought it was, and that now the new idea is to challenge the status quo and develop new ideas and ways of expression.

I always find it helpful in this new era of re-defining words to ask people when they say anyone can be married to ask them what marriage is and gently probe their response. Usually most people have a restriction on who can marry (not-with standing that most pro Yes Marriage voters would not have even been aware of the restrictions in Section 23 of the Marriage Act).

There is also a lack of definition when one probes the meaning of the word ‘love’ today. Perhaps defining ‘love’ is now too difficult or exclusionary? It is much easier to say, ‘Love is love’, and to sing about it than think about what it means. Perhaps those of us in the church could help the wider society learn more about the types of love mentioned in the bible? We need to be reminded of some of the hard sayings of Jesus: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5: 43-44)

   

Marriage and Gender

Newtown in inner-city Sydney was one of the few local areas that had a significant number of local businesses and groups involved in publicly supporting the Yes vote. Among hundreds of signs and slogans in Newtown, this sign about gender was the clearest in its revisionist context. The move away from the understanding of marriage as a natural biological union from which children are produced and nurtured centres marriage on a form of romantic love where individual fulfilment is the key to that love. Sameness is promoted rather than complementarity. It reminds me of the part in Seinfeld where Jerry in contemplating marriage realised what he was looking for all along – himself.

Ridicule of Belief

I am wondering if understanding of, or even basic awareness of the deepness of belief for people of faith could become increasingly rare in wider society? I know that Newtown is a rarefied context, but is the issue broader?

On the day of the marriage survey announcement a mural was proudly unveiled on the back of the Botany View Hotel in Newtown, Sydney.

Presumably the designer Scott Marsh had in mind an exemption from the Additional Safeguards Act that was in place during the marriage survey up until and including 15 November 2017, namely that part that mentioned “a communication communicated solely for genuine satirical, academic or artistic purposes; or” (Division 1, Subdivision A, Section 6, 4 (b) Marriage Law Survey Additional Safeguards Act 2017) as Marsh chose to celebrate the day by denigrating two prominent Catholic figures as well as the Catholic faith. Tony Abbot was illustrated wearing a bridal dress and tiara along with an allusion to performing a sexual act with the straw in the bottle of wine, as well as being depicted placing his hand down the pants of a buffed up Cardinal George Pell who was depicted as a lifeguard wearing a rainbow swimsuit. Not unexpectedly, this mural prompted considerable reaction. Within 24 hours the mural had been splashed with white paint and then later painted over with black paint, with some wording left (The Happy Ending). Groups representing differing viewpoints converged, including (mainly Maronite) Christians who wanted to pray and witness to their faith. This development led to a local police presence, albeit to ‘keep the peace’ between the different groups. In the days following people added to the black canvas with a wide range of insults, swearwords as well as blasphemous comments and praiseworthy comments about Jesus. This whole saga continued for several weeks, with regular blackening out, though by February 2018 the graffiti language decreased markedly as activists presumably have moved onto to other causes.

One intriguing aspect from some of my discussions around the area was that while people were very upset at the perceived ‘vandalism’ of the mural, some could not understand that the mural had been offensive in the first place.

 

True Rainbows

I have been able to capture some lovely images of natural rainbows in Newtown. One was in 2009, and one in February 2018. These rainbows always provide a measure of hope and help me to continue to reflect on a holy and living God, our creator and redeemer.

Published in Marriage

I have often sought to make the case for concerns about surrogacy. It is problematic on so many levels. Like the other Assisted Reproductive Technologies, our scientific and technological abilities to do things are outstripping and outpacing our moral reflection on them. And in the process, plenty of harm is being done.

Published in Right to Life

A student Christian group at the University of Iowa has been reinstated as a registered student organisation by a US Federal District Court Judge, after previously having its status revoked by University authorities. The student group, Business Leaders in Christ (“BLinC”), had been penalised because it would not agree to appoint to its leadership a same-sex attracted student, who said that they would not undertake to comply with the group’s commitment to Biblical sexual values. The University claimed that this was a breach of its Policy on Human Rights, forbidding discrimination on the basis of, among other things, sexual orientation. BLinC claimed, however, that the issue was not the student’s orientation, but their express refusal to modify their behaviour to accord with Biblical norms.

Published in Religious Freedom

[A topic as broad as the one suggested by my title is of course far too much to do justice to in a short article. But I can highlight a few brief themes here. And let me try to tie in a few recent specifics (such as the war on marriage) with the overall bigger picture I have written often about the death of the West, and about how civilisations die. As I have repeatedly noted, it takes a long time to build a culture or civilisation, but their collapse can happen relatively quickly. We are now seeing this being played out in the West. Much of the West is the direct result of the Judeo-Christian worldview. Of course other earlier influences would include ancient Greece and Rome, and more recently, things such as the Enlightenment.

 I grew up in a very broken very liberal minded home. From my earliest years I knew that I was “the missed pill” as my Mother so eloquently liked to put it. My Mother grew up in the 50’s .... She was very young and had a few dalliances with school boys.. Nothing serious but her father got wind of it and as punishment she was sent away at aged 16 to a school in the City which trained young women to be a nurses. Some of the girls there were in the ‘family way’ and we often wonder if this is what happened to our Mum.

Published in Right to Life

I recently attended a colloquium run by the Presbyterian Church, Religion in the Public Square. Speakers included the illustrious Augusto Zimmerman, journalist Angela Shanahan, and other cultural commentators. The talks covered the current litany of restrictions being placed on Christians in the public arena. It was sobering to hear spectrum of persecutions being waged against us both in Australia and overseas - remember this was before the results of the postal vote on marriage were known. If it was bad before, then it prosises to be much worse from now on.

Published in Religious Freedom
Saturday, 11 November 2017 10:45

Lest We Forget to Honour the Past

A Nation that dishonours its past does not deserve a future. One could see that as something of a judgement but in fact it is a simple consequence. At times in any Nation's history an extreme effort is called for and its success is honoured. It must be honoured. But we live in - as the Chinese say - 'interesting times', (read, 'difficult') and Britain's leaders, both political and 'media' are deliberately dishonouring Britain's extreme efforts. This will not end well. In the Tavern we take a minute of silence at 11am on November 11th. It is the day we remember those that fell in the First World War.  Many young people do not even know of that war because their 'educators' do not want it remembered.  Others, too, do not want it remembered, let alone honoured. It is scandalous. Simon Jenkins....the Guardian, of course.

Published in Catholic
Friday, 10 November 2017 10:05

Our Surrender of Family Planning to God

In 1993 God began to speak to me about taking the Pill. I had been taking the mini-pill since D’s birth in 1983. I loved it - great contraception and the added bonus of no periods.

How secular was my thinking? No thought of God’s plan for my fertility.

Published in Contraception
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